Writing Prompt: Through Their Eyes

eye-glasses

Prompt

In a poem or a few paragraphs of prose, describe a pleasant scene from the eyes of a character who just experienced/is experiencing a negatively impactful or otherwise traumatic experience. However, you may not explicitly state what this experience is but instead provide clues through the narration of the piece.

Examples of situations:

  • A sunset through the eyes of a person who just lost a loved one.
  • A young couple holding hands through the eyes of a person who just went through a break-up.
  • The woods through the eyes of a person with depression.
  • Children laughing in the park through the eyes of a person who had a traumatic childhood.
  • Parents singing to their baby through the eyes of a person who can’t have children.

Rationale

A typically pleasant scene can stir not only pleasant emotions but also unpleasant, at times painful emotions depending on the past experiences of a person. A traumatic event can severely influence how a person perceives the world around them, and conveying this in writing is a powerful tool in producing empathy in readers as well as the writer him/herself, if not catharsis if it reflects personal experiences. In addition, learning to shape the narration to fit the eyes of a person with a specific experience without explicitly telling the reader what this experience is allows you to train your brain to think deeper and more carefully about the descriptions you use and the thoughts and reactions your characters have to this pleasant scene. Sometimes what is not said can convey a lot more than what is said.

For Later

In your writing throughout this class and beyond, think about how you might juxtapose elements like this (typically pleasant ideas tainted by the narrator’s unpleasant perception). It adds a layer of depth in your writing, conveying how there’s more to a text than the scene taking place. A layered piece of writing is typically more thought-provoking than a piece of writing where the text itself is to be taken at face value.

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